“Exemplifies The Very Reasons Why Joyce Left Ireland”


Planning application notice for 15, Usher’s Island, Dublin 8

During this ongoing debate about the repatriation of James Joyce’s body, the developers Fergus McCabe and Brian Stynes have submitted an application to convert 15 Usher’s Island – the house in which Joyce’s story, The Dead, is set – into a 56-room hostel replete with a cafe.

If Dublin and the Dublin City Council truly want to honour Joyce, their energies would be better spent on devising a better plan for this house, rather than wasting time on the misguided business of repatriation (as has been well documented in these pages).

Joyce conceived and wrote The Dead in his self-imposed exile at a point when he began to miss his abandoned city.

As a result, it is less caustic than the other stories in Dubliners and, while still critical, shows a sincere and abiding appreciation of “Irish hospitality”.

This underlying affection is one of many reasons why this story is often considered the greatest short story in the English language.

On the other hand, McCabe and Stynes’s application exemplifies the very reasons why Joyce left Ireland, “the old sow that eats her farrow”.

Dr Sam Slote,
Associate Professor,
School of English,
Trinity College Dublin,
Dublin 2.


A better plan for the house of The Dead (Irish Times letters page)

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17 thoughts on ““Exemplifies The Very Reasons Why Joyce Left Ireland”

  1. Welcome to Finglas

    Bringing life – and new use – to a vacant building is somehow abusing the memory of a dead guy’s work of fiction … ?


    1. bisted

      …visitors to Dublin cannot believe the wanton neglect of iconic buildings like this or the Ormonde Hotel building just across the river…especially when a huge reserve of funds are available through NAMA which could be used to save these buildings…instead they restore the fortunes of the same developers whose greed has in cycles destroyed Dublin…

      1. Cian

        NAMA was created to save “iconic” buildings.

        NAMA was created to save the banks, make sure that debts were paid, and try to keep money flowing so development didn’t come to a complete standstill.

        1. bisted

          …I suppose someone like you even acknowledging these buildings as iconic is a step forward…even Garrett the Good stepped in to save Bewleys…hope from philistine blueshirts…

          1. Cian

            Firstly, “someone like you”? what does that mean?

            Secondly, to set the record straight, I didn’t actually acknowledge this buildings (or indeed any building) as iconic.

  2. Conor

    Considering it’s currently appears to be derelict and, a well designed hostel will be a brilliant addition to this part of the city which is pretty devoid of life.

  3. Rob_G

    Joyce’s body of work mentions dozens of places in the city; should we preserve them all in aspic as empty monuments to the great man’s canon?

    He already has two or three other museums in the city; make it a hostel already.

    1. bisted

      …Joyce once declared that if Dublin were suddenly destroyed, it could be reconstructed from the contents of his book..how disappointed he would be that his Dublin is being destroyed despite the contents of his book…

      1. Rob_G

        Yeah, we should have left all of Dublin as tenements to honour Brendan Behan and Sean O’Casey – completely daft; cities are for people, not ghosts of dead authors

      2. Otis Blue

        I doubt that he’d be surprised

        In his own words:

        “When the soul of a man is born in this country there are nets flung at it to hold it back from flight…

        …Do you know what Ireland is? asked Stephen with cold violence. Ireland is the old sow that eats her farrow”

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